DNS Settings

If you aren’t familiar with the term DNS, or Domain Name System, think of it like the telephone book of the internet, translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses.

Technically speaking, DNS is a hierarchical naming system built on a distributed database for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. This means that the database that matches domain names with IP addresses has a tree structure, where lower-level DNS servers have the most specific IP information and higher-level DNS servers (or root servers) have information about lower-level DNS servers.

Your domain's DNS is comprised of many different types of records such as Address (A) records, Name Server (NS) records, and Mail Exchange (MX) records for your domain.

A simple introduction to DNS and DNS records can be found at Google Apps. A more expansive article can be found on Wikipedia. There are also tutorial resources, like DNS University, available online.

Contents

Getting Started

Your domain name has DNS records and your store is hosted on Volusion servers. DNS is used to point your domain at Volusion's servers so that your domain can be matched with your store. One of the most important DNS records for this matching process is a Name Server (NS) Record. Name server records are used to point a root domain name at a site’s name servers – which contain information about the numerical identifiers (IP address locations).

At a very basic level, DNS works like this:

  • A customer enters your domain name (e.g. www.myvolusionstore.com) into their web browser
  • The customer's computer network sends a DNS request to Volusion's name servers
  • Volusion's name servers looks up the records stored for www.myvolusionstore.com, finds the IP address of your store, and sends it to the customer's computer
  • The customer can now see your store's homepage

The entire name server query process which allows your domain name to access your storefront is actually much more complicated, but since all this happen in split-second load time and is invisible to the customer, we’ll skip the technical details.

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Configuring Your Domain for Use With Your Volusion Store

Depending on where you purchased your domain name and whether or not your Volusion store will use a subdomain, the instructions for configuring your domain to pick up your Volusion storefront will vary.

Domains Purchased Through Volusion

If you purchased your store's domain name from Volusion, your domain name is immediately ready to use with your online store. Once your domain registration order is complete, you’ll receive an email notification stating your domain name is ready. The name servers for your domain will already be pointed at Volusion upon purchase.

Note that when purchasing your domain name online with Volusion, be sure to enter the primary email address you have associated with your Volusion account into the email field within the domain name order form. By ensuring the email address for your hosting plan and domain name purchase are the same, you will be able to manage both plans/orders from the same my.volusion.com account.

Domains Purchased Elsewhere

If you're using a legacy domain purchased from a third-party domain name registrar, you’ll need to forward it to Volusion before you can configure your store to use your third-party domain.

Contact your registrar – the company you originally purchased your domain name from – and either navigate through their control panel to locate the DNS settings or contact the registrar directly for assistance. There are four name servers you need to point to:

  • NS1.VOLUSION.COM
  • NS2.VOLUSION.COM
  • NS3.VOLUSION.COM
  • NS4.VOLUSION.COM

Note that if your domain registrar only provides two fields for name servers, you should enter "NS3.VOLUSION.COM" and "NS4.VOLUSION.COM".

Pointing a Subdomain

If you’re using a subdomain name such as "store.mydomainname.com" or "shop.mydomainname.com", you will only point the subdomain at Volusion, not your root domain. This means that you should not edit the name server records for your domain (unlike above).

To point your subdomain, create a CNAME record for your desired subdomain. The record name will be "store," "shop," etc., depending on the desired name of your subdomain. The record type will be CNAME. The hostname of the new record (or the URL where the CNAME should point) should be the temporary hostname of your store.

The formatting of this URL will be "xxxxx.xxxxx.servertrust.com" and can be found in the Welcome email that was sent from Volusion when your store order was fulfilled. You can also look up your temporary URL in your store's Admin Area by going to Settings > Company and looking in the Domain Name dropdown for your Temporary Hostname URL.

Note that some registrars require a trailing period after the URL to which a CNAME is pointing. For example, you would need to enter:

xxxxx.xxxxx.servertrust.com.

rather than:

xxxxx.xxxxx.servertrust.com

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After Pointing Your Domain at Volusion

On average, it takes around 24-72 hours for name server and other DNS record changes to propagate.

Once you've pointed the DNS with your registrar and waited the necessary propagation time, you can configure your Volusion store to resolve to your domain name as follows:

  1. Go to Settings > Company in your Admin Area.
  2. Under Company Information, select your store's domain name from the Domain Name dropdown menu.
  3. Click Save.

When you point your DNS at Volusion, you will be able to type in your domain and view your storefront, but the URL will still show your Temporary Hostname address. By changing this setting in your Admin Area, the URL in your browser will begin to display your domain name.

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Finding and Editing DNS Records when Volusion hosts your DNS

  1. Go to my.volusion.com and log in, or point to your administrative account name in your Admin Area and click My Volusion.
  2. Click Manage DNS and, if necessary, select the appropriate domain from the Choose a Domain dropdown.
  3. Make the appropriate changes or additions to the My Volusion DNS Records table.
  4. Click Save.

Keep in mind that changes made to your DNS records may take 24-72 hours to propagate.

How do I know if Volusion hosts my DNS?

If Volusion does not host your DNS, you will see a yellow shaded message on your DNS management page. In order to point your domain at your Volusion storefront and use your DNS management page to edit your DNS records, you will need to use the instructions above to change your name servers with your domain registrar.

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Default DNS Records in Volusion

Note that in the DNS settings, "@" represents your domain name, e.g. yourdomain.com.

‘A’ Records

A records are used to point a domain name or subdomain to a static IP address. An A record can only point to an IP address; it cannot point to another domain name.

Volusion IP addresses are subject to change periodically. If your DNS is hosted with Volusion, the IP address on your A record will be updated automatically with no manual action required on your part. If your DNS is hosted externally, then you will need to update your A record to point at the new IP whenever it changes.

‘MX’ Records

MX (Mail Exchange) records are used to route email sent to your domain name. The Record Name field contains the domain name that appears in the email address. Again, keep in mind that the "@" symbol in DNS settings represents your domain, e.g. yourdomain.com. The Hostname field (or Data field) of an MX record contains the host name of the server where mail should be delivered.

Below, you will see that the default mail servers for Volusion are MX3.VOLUSION.COM and MX4.VOLUSION.COM. Leaving the mail servers with the default settings below means your @domain.com emails will be configured through myVolusion.

See the article on Connecting to your Volusion E-mail Account for more information on using Volusion as your email host.

Record Name

Record Type

Hostname

@

MX (Priority 10)

mx3.volusion.com

@

MX (Priority 10)

mx4.volusion.com

Your MX records should only be changed if you are using a third-party email host. For more information, see Using Volusion with 3rd Party E-mail Systems.

You can specify a Priority when you set up an MX record to determine the order in which mail servers are tried. Email for Volusion stores is hosted with Rackspace, and the default Rackspace priorities are both 10. Other email hosts may have more than 2 MX records, or may have many different priorities to configure. You should check with the email provider for these settings.

You may have an extra MX record that points to mx1.emailsvr.com. This was used for email hosting transition several years ago, but is no longer used and can be ignore or deleted.

‘CNAME’ Records

CNAME records, also known as alias records, are used to point a subdomain to an already existing A record.

Record Name

Record Type

Hostname

FTP

CNAME

@

Mail

CNAME

webmail.volusion.com

www

CNAME

@

The FTP record is used to set up an address for you to connect to when you want to transfer files to your domain using an FTP application or service. In most cases, there is no reason to change it from ftp.mydomain.com.

The Mail record is used to give you access to the Volusion webmail service from webmail.mydomain.com. You can change the hostname here to assign webmail.mydomain.com to a third-party web mail provider if you wish.

The www record is used to set up your domain alias. This cannot be edited.

You can use CNAME records to set up subdomains such as blog.mydomain.com. Adding a CNAME record for a subdomain is an easy way to create a memorable web address for unique content pages for your site. For example, Volusion's support site is found at a "support" subdomain: support.volusion.com. For information on adding a blog to your store, please see How Can I Link a Blog With My Volusion Store?

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Additional Record Types

‘SPF’ Records

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records are used as an email validation system to prevent email spam by verifying sender IP addresses. Adding an SPF record allows domain administrators to specify which hosts are allowed to send mail from a given domain by creating a specific SPF record. Many mail services will check the SPF record to verify that mail from a given domain is being sent by a host that has been verified by the domain administrator.

By having an SPF record, mail recipients can authorize which external hosts are permitted to use your name as the "MAIL FROM" identity during a mail transaction. Email marketing partners may want you to set up their host name or IP address here. They should be able to tell you exactly what to enter here. For complete information see RFC 4404.

‘TXT’ Records

Text (TXT) Records are used to store supplemental information (in ASCII text) about your domain. TXT records do not affect where your DNS is pointed, and are just a means to store information about your domain for future reference.

Formerly, the information that is now validated with the above SPF record was a TXT record. Information that can be stored in a TXT record includes your administrator-authorized IP address and information about you, the domain owner.

You will need to create a TXT record if you are setting up various Google accounts, for example, and need to verify site ownership. Full details, including the text that needs to be entered, will be provided by Google or whoever requests that you add this record.

Note on 'SPF' and 'TXT' Records in Volusion

When entering an SPF or TXT record at myVolusion > Manage DNS, you must wrap all text in the Hostname field in quotation marks. For example, your SPF Hostname field should be entered as "v=spf1 include:emailsrvr.com include:smtp5.volusion.net ~all".

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Name Server (NS) Records

A Name Server (NS) record is used to point a domain name at a name server. A name server is a server that contains a directory which maps human-recognizable identifiers (domain names) with the available numeric IP addresses to match with those domain names.

For Volusion stores, the four Volusion name servers are NS1.VOLUSION.COM, NS2.VOLUSION.COM, NS3.VOLUSION.COM, and NS4.VOLUSION.COM. These name servers contain the information about the IP addresses for all Volusion stores.

Once your domain's Name Servers are pointed at Volusion (and propagated), a user can type your domain name into their browser, and the authoritative name servers will be queried about the IP location of your Volusion store. The authoritative name servers will match your store's domain name with your store's IP location. The user will see the associated Volusion storefront for your domain name.

Finding Name Server Records in Volusion

Note that name server records are only editable from myVolusion if Volusion is your domain's ICANN registrar. If you purchased your domain from a different registrar, you will only be able to edit name server (NS) records from the registrar's page.

You will only need to change the name server records in Volusion if you are pointing your domain away from Volusion (the name servers are correctly configured to point at Volusion and propagated when you purchase your domain).

The name server records can be found by clicking View Domains in your myVolusion account. If you have any domains registered with Volusion, you will see a Choose a Domain dropdown list where you can select the domain you want to edit information for.

After selecting a domain, the page will show an area titled Edit Whois Information for www.domain.com, with sections to update the domain's Registrant Contact Info, Billing Contact Info, Admin Contact Info, and Technical Contact Info. If you scroll past these editable areas to the bottom of your page, you will find the area where you can Edit DNS Info for www.domain.com and four Name Server fields.

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Summary

Though DNS settings and changes can seem intimidating, Volusion makes it as simple as possible by automating the process of pointing the records in your DNS for you. Before troubleshooting DNS issues, be sure to wait the 24-72 hour propagation period to see if your domain is simply slow to resolve.

During the initial period after a name server change, it's not uncommon (depending on their location and what ISP they are using) for some customers to successfully reach the new location while others may still find the domain to resolve to the old location (if any). This is because the time it takes for news of a name server change to reach all DNS servers worldwide varies.

If you continue to have issues with DNS propagation or figuring out your DNS settings, reach out to Volusion Support for assistance.